Chicago Cubs fans said one final goodbye to Ron Santo Friday, when hundreds of people flocked to his funeral at Holy Name Cathedral downtown Chicago. Long-time Cubs fan Margie Taylor stood in the cold outside the cathedral holding a photo album filled with her memories of the legendary third-baseman, recalling how she used to shout to Santo from the stands.
"'Ron! I'll stand on one side of third base, and you can stand on the other side!'" Taylor remembered. "He was my heartthrob, yes he was. He was real nice."
During the service, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts remembered the years Santo called games for WGN, saying Santo was the "fan in the booth."
"Ron was so in touch with the fan base that, at times, he could describe what was happening on the field without using actual words at all," Ricketts said, drawing a laugh from the audience. "Yet every time - every moan, every groan, every shout for joy - we knew exactly, exactly what Ron was saying."
Santo was a nine-time all-star in his 15-year career. The third baseman was widely regarded as one of the best players never to gain induction into the Hall of Fame. He ended his career with 342 home runs, more than 1,300 RBIs and a .277 batting average.
"He was great for baseball," said Cubs super-fan Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers. "The only thing sad about it [is] hehad to pass on before he got into the Hall of Fame." Santo's funeral procession then made one final lap around the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.
The Cubs legend died last week from complications from bladder cancer. He was 70 years old.